oyster gonzo

Knives: Immigrants and Oysters

asaucerful Forks & Knives, immigration Leave a Comment

Soon I would like to go into a little more depth about knives and the proper handling of them since I dropped mention on my previous article. This article, however, will not be about those technical details, instead I offer some other insight about some insidious nature of the food service industry, and even so I still work in it because I love cooking and I’m good at it despite the road blocks women face to which I will discuss at some other time, and the harshness of the industry.

Recently, I quit a job that worked everyone to the bone. I mean that most workers, at least line cooks were working over ten hours a day at five to six days a week, and sometimes longer. The amount of fatigue that sets in seem unimaginable if you have never worked a labor intensive job that requires standing on your feet all day. Sure, many people would say that ten hours a day sucks but it’s not that bad, though I tend to then go on to ask if that is ten hours at a desk or ten hours on your feet without a break. Usually the answer is ten hours at a desk with a leisurely break. Now, I know that ten hours of work is a long time and exhausting, but for those who work in labor intensive jobs that require a lot of time standing ten hours feels more like sixteen, easy! Hey, and it’s common place to not get a true break, and no one seems to be bothered by it.

So, I mentioned the line cooks working an average of ten hours without a break, well the prep cooks are usually the immigrants who speak very little or broken English are on staff for at least fourteen hours, six or seven days a week, often going back and forth between jobs sometimes for the same company that have more than one restaurant tied to the name. The immigrants are used to their last drop of energy.

Years ago I worked for a restaurant that employed a young man from Guatemala as a dish washer. He was employed under a fake ID and Social Security card. At one point restaurant needed to employ a second dishwasher to work the evening shifts, and when the restaurant couldn’t find one that would work the few extra hours available, the bosses went to this fresh faced kid and asked him to get a second ID and SS card so that he can become employed twice, but under two separate names therefore collecting two separate paychecks. The insidious part of this was that rather than paying a single paycheck to this kid by instead giving out two checks… they didn’t have to pay him over time. He worked over time but under a different name he got the same pay rate regardless of his hours worked. It wasn’t until years later, and now recently thinking about all the hours put in by all the immigrant workers I worked with at my salaried job from hell, that I began to feel really shitty about how these workers are treated and used. Workers in the food service industry are treated like shit for the most part, even us privileged white English speaking kids are often treated like slaves. And you know what? No one bats an eye at it.

I’ve started to refer to the food service industry as one of the last industries in which worker issues are seldom talked about and almost down right ignored, and there really are no unions for workers. Sure IWW has a chapter for retail and restaurant workers, but everyone is pretty set and used to the way things have been… we are taught from the beginning how the industry works.

I mentioned before about how the pay is pretty shitty often times, but most of working conditions and the hierarchy tears people down and you’re lucky if you get to be in a good place that is thoughtful and cares about workers. Be thankful for those places because they are very few and far between. I hope that if I were to have a restaurant or be a part in creating one that I would do my damnedest to make it a good place for workers. A place that has a cooperative spirit even if not a worker cooperative in name.



The meat… Rather the Mollusc’s

Thai Style Broiled Oysters

  • One dozen fresh live oysters, scrubbedd
  • Few dashes Fish sauce, wheat free/MSG free
  • 1 TB Sambal chili sauce
  • 1 TB Sweet Thai Chili sauce
  • 1 large clove garlic, rough chop
  • Kefir lime leaf, super fine julienne
  • 1 TSP Coconut aminos or gluten free soy sauce
  • Couple grinds, Fresh ground black pepper
  • Coriander leaves, garnish
  • Thai basil, garnish
  • Pickled ginger, garnish, go for good quality not that sickly pink shit
  • Sea salt

Heat broiler. Mix together fish sauce, sambal, sweet chili sauce, garlic, kefir lime leaf, aminos/soy sauce and black pepper.

Gently open oysters with an oyster knife as seen in any instructional video found of the internets. Be sure to keep the brine from the oysters. Place oyster in a pan for roasting. You can hold them in place with some rock salt lined in the pan. Sprinkle the oysters with a little sea salt. Add about ½ tsp of the chili mix over the oysters. Place under hot broiler for about four minutes or until the ousters start to bubble a bit around the sides.

Served with picked coriander, thai basil, and pickled ginger.

This is a nice spicy starter to a meal.



asaucerfulKnives: Immigrants and Oysters

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